A First-Time Buyer’s Guide to Stone Countertops
Though laminate countertops were once all the rage in decades past, engineered stone countertops recently surpassed them to become the most-used countertop material in America. Stone counters account for around 36% of countertop demand thanks to their natural looks and high quality.
In other words, you’re in good company if you’re feeling tempted by the gorgeous aesthetic of a stone countertop!
If you’re a first-time buyer, you may be wondering whether stone counters are worth the installation—and the price tag. After all, what sets these counters apart from their more artificial relatives?
We’ve got you covered. Here’s what to expect from different stone countertop materials, and how to start looking for the perfect fit for your kitchen.
Popular Types of Stone Countertops
First things first: let’s take a quick look at the types of countertop materials on offer, including some of the most attractive options on the market.
There’s no question that granite countertops are among the most popular options on this list. Granite counters come in an array of beautiful colors, patterns, and finishes, each with unique veining and swirls.
As the most durable type of stone countertop, granite counters are great for households that spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Granite has natural heat- and scratch-resistant properties, which boosts both its longevity and its resale value. Though pricing depends on the type of granite you want, you can expect to pay around $40 per square foot.
Though quartz countertops are actually man-made, their organic-looking beauty makes them an appealing addition to any kitchen. Even better, because this type of countertop is engineered, it’s easy to find a huge spectrum of shades, styles, and patterns to fit your aesthetic. If desired, you can even find quartz counters that mimic the look of other types of natural stone like marble or granite.
A protective resin seal protects quartz countertops from wear and tear. Unlike granite, it doesn’t need frequent resealing, but it is slightly less durable. It also tends to be more expensive, averaging around $70 per square foot.
The unique look of marble adds timeless elegance and character to any kitchen. However, this soft, porous stone will require a bit more caution than granite or quartz, as it’s prone to staining and scratching with use. It offers mild heat resistance, but not as much as either granite or quartz.
Marble also comes at a higher price tag than the options above, at around $120 per square foot.
Other Natural Stone Countertops
While the three options above are among the most popular—as well as the easiest to get your hands on—you can also find other types of stone. Slate, limestone, soapstone, and even gemstone countertops are all great choices, but you may pay more for them.
Pros and Cons of Stone Countertops
As we’ve mentioned above, natural stone countertops are beloved for their stunning looks—but that doesn’t mean these options don’t have their own pros and cons. Here are a few factors to keep in mind as you weigh stone counters against options like laminate, butcher-block, or stainless steel counters.
Advantages of Stone Countertops
Stone countertops offer a distinctive and natural look that complements most kitchen styles. Even better, they come in a huge range of shades and patterns, meaning that you can customize the end result to fit your preferences.
Because the material these counters are made from is highly durable, you won’t often have to worry about damaging them with normal use. If you do end up with chips or scratches, these types of minor damage are easy for professionals to fix.
It’s also worth noting that stone countertops demand little upkeep, especially when compared to options like butcher-block. Basic stone countertop maintenance includes sealing the counter once every few months to years, depending on your chosen material.
Last, but certainly not least, most natural stone counters will last anywhere from a few decades to a lifetime. This means you won’t have to worry about replacing your investment for years to come.
Disadvantages of Stone Countertops
For many buyers, one of the biggest disadvantages is the price tag. Though the price will vary depending on the type of stone you’ve chosen, you can expect to spend more money on stone countertops than you would on other materials. Given their longevity, of course, it’s also worth noting that you won’t have to pay for replacement countertops for decades.
Though chips and scratches are easy to fix, some countertop materials—such as marble—are more prone to them than others. Worse, with a poor installation, especially if your counters don’t have balanced supports, they can be prone to cracking over time.
Tips for Buying Stone Countertops
Once you’ve settled on a type of stone, it’s time to start looking for your new counters. If this will be your first time buying these types of countertops, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Know Your Surface Area
Get to know the surface area of your countertops. Having the square footage can help you estimate the price of each material you’re looking at. You can calculate your own square footage with a measuring tape and some basic math, though your contractor will do an expert measurement once you’re ready to move forward with the project.
Visit a Showroom
While looking through online galleries is a great way to narrow down the overall shade, pattern, and tone you’re looking for, you’ll want to visit a store in person as well.
Be sure to bring photos of your kitchen as well. This includes shots of your flooring, cabinets, and walls, so you can refer to them as you shop around. You might also want to bring a sample of your cabinet’s wood or your wall’s paint.
Work With Reputable Installers
Visiting a showroom makes it easier to visualize the stone, but it also gives you a chance to talk to the installers about their process and get advice. Make sure you feel comfortable with your chosen team before hiring them to work on your project.
In addition, make sure you’re working with an expert installer that offers a warranty on their work. As mentioned above, a poor installation can literally make or break your countertops, so finding an experienced installer is crucial.
Find the Perfect Stone Countertops for Your Kitchen
With plenty of materials, styles, and shades to choose from, stone countertops are a great addition to any kitchen. Of course, this variety can also make it tough to narrow down your options!
If you’re a first-time buyer, our team is here to help. Feel free to visit our Phoenix showroom to see our wide selection, or reach out to us today for a free in-home estimate.